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Smorgasbord

A Nipponese Potpourri Si Vous Plait
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I'm a bit of a Nipponophile, as are others in the Guild such as Marian Richie (no relation to Donald) and Anita Rao. So, a couple of fun pieces, just for a break from quotidian California.

A Cook’s Tour of the Tokyo Food Scene

Taking a cooking class in the Japanese capital adds layers to an exploration of the city’s abundant supply of restaurants, from a pricey kaiseki spot to a chain noodle joint.


By Timothy Taylor

  • Published Nov. 8, 2023Updated Nov. 17, 2023 - NY Times


It’s a Monday afternoon in the Tsukiji branch of the Tokyo Sushi Academy and we’re about to be put to the test. Or I am anyway. Most of the other students enrolled in the Japanese Culinary Intensive course are professionals. They are local or from abroad, just brushing up on skills or adding to their repertoire. My bench mate works charter yachts out of Australia. Our sensei, the chef Hiro Tsumoto, noticed a tattoo on his forearm with Japanese characters and called out: “Hey, that’s my aunt’s name!”


I’m among the civilians whom the academy also welcomes into the course. I’m here for the challenge, certainly. But in this moment, I’m feeling distinctly in over my head.


Mr. Hiro, who is also one of the academy’s founders, has been walking us through the basics of kaiseki, a word used for both the traditional multicourse Japanese meal as well as the skills and techniques required to make it. This involves talking about a bewildering range of things, including knife cuts for notching the top of a shiitake mushroom, how to knot a sprig of the herb mitsuba for garnish, as well as the precise temperature to best extract flavor for dashi broth made from kombu seaweed and katsuobushi, or dried bonito fish shavings. On the topic of kaiseki Mr. Hiro grows briefly philosophical, noting that it’s a lifetime practice and thus approaching the ineffable.


“Like the kappa. What actually is the kappa?” he says, by way of a winking explanation. “OK, let’s cook!”


A Cook’s Tour of the Tokyo Food Scene


Depictions of Eros and Thanatos: Sacred Trees of Shintō Shrines Through the Lens of Ōsaka Hiroshi

Nov 15, 2023 Ōsaka Hiroshi [Profile] - nippon.com


Ancient trees at Shintō shrines take on a mythical aura when seen through the lens of award-winning Japanese photographer Ōsaka Hiroshi.


Depictions of Eros and Thanatos: Sacred Trees of Shintō Shrines Through the Lens of Ōsaka Hiroshi


And, one of my all-time favorite films:



Tampopo (タンポポ, Tanpopo, literally "dandelion") is a 1985 Japanese comedy film written and directed by Juzo Itami, and starring Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto, Kōji Yakusho, and Ken Watanabe. The publicity for the film calls it the first "ramen Western", a play on the term spaghetti Western.


Greg

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